“Wait! Stop! I order you to stop this instant”
I am not sure why Mia was still screaming, it was clear these thugs wouldn’t listen if it were the queen herself ordering them. I got an arm free long enough to enjoy the satisfaction landing a solid blow to an unprotected nose, though the fists that fell back on me in retaliation made me wonder if it was worth it. Two of them gathered my arms behind my back while others continued to land their blows on me. Though the alley had seemed full the minute they jumped us, still more continued to leap from the windows and block the exits like bees swarming into a honeycomb.
Clearly, we’d been set up.
I couldn’t see Mia, but I took comfort in the fact that she was still screaming her demands. She couldn’t be hurting too badly if she was still shouting like that.
All at once, a hush fell over the mob. I continued to struggle for a few moments, before realizing I was the only one. They were all staring wide eyed at Mia who was standing on a pile of crates near the wall. She was holding something up in the air and looking closer, I realized whatever it was had been the cause of the sudden silence. Then, to my utter dismay, the thugs started dropping to their knees around me with soft murmurs of “your Majesty”. My jaw dropped and I stared at Mia with the shock that comes from the betrayal of someone you’d considered your ally, maybe even friend. This had to be a mistake.
Mia? The missing princess was giggly, grubby, stubborn, potty mouthed Mia? My accomplice in crime? Lots of crimes when it came to naming them. But as a hand behind my shoulders shoved me roughly to my knees, I realized she probably wouldn’t be paying for her crimes in quite the same manner as I. As she accepted a hand down from the crates, she caught my face and I saw her wince at my hurt expression just before a hand shoved my head down in a respectful bow. I felt my eye swelling and my body hurt all over from their blows, but nothing compared to the stinging pain of betrayal heating my insides. Why hadn’t she told me? Had she been using me to accomplish her petty crimes this whole time? Probably. Because Princesses weren’t hung for thievery such as ours. Orphans like me were.